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Kingston, William Henry Giles

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Kingston, William Henry Giles

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Authored by: Anica Bakalic-Radic

William Henry Giles Kingston was one of the most popular British adventure writers for boys in the Victorian period. During his long writing career of over half a century, he was also a magazine author and editor, and an author of non-fiction and adult fiction, but he wrote mostly juvenile fiction. His favourite genres were adventure tales and sea stories. The detailed knowledge of sailing displayed in his books resulted from his love of the sea, his many relatives in the navy, and his frequent journeys to Portugal.

Born in London, he spent time in Portugal during his youth. His father was a merchant and a former sailor. He had other family members in the seafaring professions as well. He returned to England in 1824 when he was ten, to be educated. He spent his summers hanging around the ports and talking to sailors. After his formal education ended in 1832, he chose to travel instead of going to university or into a profession. He returned to Portugal and worked with his father in 1833, and until 1842 he was traveling between Portugal and England. He returned to England in 1844, and continued to write and became involved in emigration issues and Empire movements. In 1853 Kingston married Agnes Kinloch, with whom he had eight children. The couple visited Canada and the United States between 1853 and 1854. Despite the popularity of his books, Kingston had financial problems in his final years and disappeared from public life but remained a prolific author.

Deeply religious and a devoted Imperialist, Kingston’s stories promoted the expansion of the British Empire and evangelical Christianity. His books for boys typically contained moral and spiritual guidance, described ideal masculine behaviour and the Christian duties of emigrants.


Thompson, Nicola D. "William Henry Giles Kingston (28 February 1814-5 August 1880)." British Children's Writers, 1800-1880, edited by Meena Khorana, vol. 163, Gale, 1996, pp. 148-158. Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 163, Dictionary of Literary Biography Main Series, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=DLBC&sw=w&u=yorku_main&v=2.1&id=LBOWZG611669183&it=r&asid=df189e556a82ac9d25216d8b0b7d1523. Accessed 26 July 2017.

Kingsford, Maurice Rooke. The Life, Work and Influence of William Henry Giles Kingston. Ryerson Press, 1947.


“Kingston, William Henry Giles,” York University Libraries | Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections online exhibits, accessed December 10, 2023, https://archives.library.yorku.ca/items/show/4215.